Business of Well-being

Using Remote Health Management Systems to Manage Chronic Conditions

Using Remote Health Management Systems to Manage Chronic Conditions

An estimated 133 million Americans are currently living with one or more chronic conditions - a figure that is only expected to grow as the baby boomer generation ages. Many experience frustration with monitoring and managing their own or their loved ones' complex medical needs.In addition, hospitals are especially challenged to find ways to improve management of all critical illnesses in the face of proposals to slash Medicare payments to facilities that readmit patients within a specific time period.

According to the American Hospital Association, these new regulations would raise costs to hospitals an estimated $19 billion over 10 years. The good news is that today health management providers are offering solutions that make it possible for these individuals to manage their health from anywhere, at any time, while also providing important informational updates to their caregivers or doctors.

Remote health monitoring has the potential to not only drastically reduce health care costs, but also to improve patients' quality of life by allowing them to continue living independently at home rather than being hospitalized or moved into an assisted living facility. High blood pressure alone affects 73 million Americans. As of 2008, the estimated direct and indirect cost of high blood pressure was $69.4 billion, according to the American Heart Association.

In an attempt to combat these high costs, the use of home blood pressure monitoring is recommended by several national and international guidelines for the management of hypertension, including The American Heart Association and The American Society of Hypertension. In one study's analysis of 904 patients using real-time readings from a remote hypertension management program for a period of six months, the average reduction of systolic blood pressure was 9 mmHg.

These decreases in blood pressure are significant because controlled blood pressure has been associated with a 35 to 40 percent mean reduction in stroke incidence, 20 to 25 percent mean reduction in myocardial infarctions and more than 50 percent reduction in heart failure. A 12mmHg drop in average systolic blood pressure will save one life in every 11 treated patients over ten years. This means that in the 904 patient population, almost 40 lives would be saved.

Regarding congestive heart failure (CHF), there are approximately 5.3 million people suffering from CHF in the United States. The lifetime risk of developing heart failure at the age of 40 is 20 percent, and approximately 380,000 people above the age of 65 will be diagnosed with CHF annually. The estimated total of direct and indirect cost of heart failure in the United States for 2008 is $34.8 billion, with the greatest share being hospitalizations.

The increasing number of patients being hospitalized with CHF has been great cause for concern. The number of patients with CHF discharged from the hospital rose from 400,000 in 1979 to over 1 million in 2005. Furthermore, within 4-6 months after discharge, 47 percent of the patients are likely to be readmitted. A recent study of 417 CHF patients using a remote health monitoring system proved that this was an effective method to reduce congestive heart failure hospital admissions by 57 percent, demonstrating that these systems can significantly reduce healthcare costs.

Our company has created a revolutionary remote health management platform that addresses many of today's most challenging and costly healthcare issues. For people managing critical conditions such as congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, asthma or obesity, our system provides relevant, real-time, reliable and actionable data. This can deliver interactive, personalized communication, allowing individuals to become more engaged and active participants in their own health.

This approach also makes proactive prevention more realistic than ever, as it is instrumental in gauging health issues before critical conditions manifest themselves into acute events. For example, daily blood pressure readings are more indicative of someone developing hypertension than having one reading taken every six months at the doctor's office. Remote health monitoring devices and programs are designed to empower patients to take an active role in the management of their personal health.

Patients with a critical illness need to be able to easily follow their care plans and make necessary lifestyle or medication modifications. This can minimize the chance that they will develop additional complications that could further jeopardize their health, thus requiring expensive treatment. Consistent and regular monitoring of blood glucose levels or body weight, for example, can help reinforce adherence to good health practices as well.

As a bonus, because some remote health monitoring devices, like ours, are wireless, they can also make it possible to manage health while traveling or on the go. Many remote health management systems not only offer solutions for patients, but for their caregivers as well. Often caregivers look to technology for assistance in tracking a person's status or progress, and now computers, smart phones and even tablets can enable health care providers to monitor patients in their homes and let adult children and other family members keep an eye on aging parents.

When a patient steps on the scale in the morning or checks their blood glucose level before a meal, for example, a designated caretaker team can be notified, even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away. The compact, affordable and easy-to-use devices monitor data and can automatically and wirelessly transmit this information to the individual's healthcare team without the need for cumbersome wires or manual data entry.

One person who has experienced firsthand the benefits of remote health monitoring is 70-year-old Ira Roberts, who is living with diabetes. A church minister for 35 years, he also teaches at William Patterson University and travels over 300 miles a week as a gospel musician. With such a busy schedule, Ira can't afford to let his diabetes slow him down.

At home or on the road, he stays on a healthy track by providing his doctors with 24/7 access to all his latest health information.Ira does this by using a remote glucose meter, which makes it easy to capture and transmit important blood sugar data, no matter where he happens to be. For Ira, being able to send his glucose readings wirelessly and automatically via our system is what has allowed him to remain active and fully independent.

The device "helps me manage my health by getting all my doctors on the same page," said Ira. "The system acts as a watchdog of my diabetes." Ira once took injected medications to manage his Type II diabetes, which tended to cause significant fluctuations in his body weight. Now, in addition to his glucose meter, Ira uses a digital body weight scale, to monitor his weight on a daily basis. Such accurate, up-to-the-minute information has allowed his doctors to make timely and effective medication adjustments.

Together, the two products have proved so successful that Ira has been able to stop taking three medications. These easy, affordable, consumer-inspired devices are a perfect solution for busy people such as Ira. When assessing remote health monitoring systems conducive to travel, it's essential that they be compatible with various modes of communication - such as cell phones, telephone lines and the Internet - so no matter where you are, you can capture, store, and send health information to your healthcare team, including physicians, family and other designated caregivers.

That team can then access this information to assist with timely and appropriate healthcare decisions. Health care is increasingly top of mind for Americans, as well as those around the world, from physicians and hospitals, to patients and caregivers. If patients with chronic conditions are able to manage them  at home or remotely, healthcare costs would likely decrease, people would have better understanding of their own health and their caretaker will be able to have more peace of mind.About Jason Goldberg:

About The Author

Jason Goldberg founded IDEAL LIFE in 2002. As president, Goldberg oversees overall product development, management and corporate direction. Under his guidance, IDEAL LIFE has grown from a simple idea into a leading global health technology company spanning multiple continents with the largest implementation of remote health management solutions.

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